In reality, Social Security Disability Benefits are governed by two separate programs: SSI and SSDI. What is the difference between the two?
- The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to you and certain family members, if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
· Your adult child also may qualify for benefits on your earnings record if he or she has a disability that started before age 22.
· The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.
The definition of “disability” is the same under both programs and is determined by the same process.Who Qualifies for SSDI?
You must have worked long enough--and recently enough--under Social Security to qualify for SSDI.
Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year.
The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. In 2012, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,130 of wages or self-employment income. When you've earned $4,520, you've earned your four credits for the year.
The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
The rules are as follows:
- Before age 24--You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
- Age 24 to 31--You may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need credit for 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27).
- Age 31 or older--In general, you need to have the number of work credits shown in the chart below. Unless you are blind, you must have earned at least 20 of the credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled.
Born after 1929, Became Disabled At Age:
Number of Credits You Need:
31 through 42
62 or older
Who Qualifies for SSI?Whether you can get SSI depends on your income and resources (the things you own).
Income Limits:Income is money you receive such as wages, Social Security benefits and pensions. Income also includes such things as food and shelter. A person who is not blind and is just now applying for SSI disability benefits and earns more than $1,010 a month probably will not be able to get SSI benefits.
Social Security does not count all of your income when it decides whether you qualify for SSI. For example, the SSA does not count:
- The first $20 a month of most income you receive;
- The first $65 a month you earn from working and half the amount over $65;
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps;
- Shelter you get from private nonprofit organizations; and
- Most home energy assistance.
If you are married, the SSA also includes part of your spouse’s income and resources when deciding whether you qualify for SSI. If you are younger than age 18, the SSA includes part of your parents’ income and resources. And, if you are a sponsored noncitizen, the SSA may include your sponsor’s income and resources.
If you are a student, some of the wages or scholarships you receive may not count.
Limits on Resources:
Resources that the SSA counts in deciding whether you qualify for SSI include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds.
You may be able to get SSI if your resources are worth no more than $2,000. A couple may be able to get SSI if they have resources worth no more than $3,000. If you own property that you are trying to sell, you may be able to get SSI while trying to sell it.
Social Security does not count everything you own in deciding whether you have too many resources to qualify for SSI. For example, the SSA does not count:
- The home you live in and the land it is on;
- Life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less;
- Your car (only one car);
- Burial plots for you and members of your immediate family; and
- Up to $1,500 in burial funds for you and up to $1,500 in burial funds for your spouse.